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Puig antics rankle Cardinals

The SportsXchange

Yasiel Puig and his teammates call it energy. St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran think the 22-year-old Dodgers phenom might need a lesson or two about conducting himself on the baseball field.

Puig collected his first two hits in the National League Championship Series on Monday. His blast to right field -- past Beltran -- for a triple brought harsh words from Beltran, a 36-year-old Puerto Rican.

"As a player, I just think he doesn't know (how to act)," Beltran said. "That's what I think. He really doesn't know. He must think that he's still playing somewhere else. He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that -- great ability, great talent. I think with time, he'll learn that you've got to act with a little bit more calm."

Puig ripped the RBI triple off Adam Wainwright and, before leaving the batter's box, flipped his bat and thrust his hands over his head in celebration, thinking he hit a home run. When he noticed the ball was tracking short of the wall, Puig sped around the bases and landed a third base, where he again celebrated with his hands in the air.

"I mean, it's not great," Beltran said. "To me, I don't like it. But what can I say? I don't play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is."

What it is to the Dodgers is Puig being himself. Manager Don Mattingly said this week the team needs his energy and exuberance, which are amplified when he's on the bases and making things happen.

"He doesn't mean anything by it. He just wants to do well," veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. said of Puig. "I totally understand the opposite side and their view of it. But what I would say to them is, you've got to remember, this guy is like a 16-year-old kid playing Little League. He's just so passionate, so emotional about the game. He really means no disrespect."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't forward Beltran's stance that Puig might have just awakened the opponent as much as he rejuvenated the Dodgers.

"He's a good player, there is no question about it," Matheny said. "Guys are going to handle successes and failures however they're going to handle them, and that's not really our say."

Mattingly defended his players Tuesday and used the term "double standard" about the Cardinals' criticism.

Wainwright said after the game he saw Adrian Gonzalez doing some "Mickey Mouse stuff" at second base.

Mattingly said he had "zero problem" with Gonzalez's celebration and said Puig's was a concern for the Dodgers and not for the Cardinals.

"I also had zero problems the other day when they got out of the bases-loaded jam and Yadier [Molina] pumps his fist," Mattingly said. "To me, that's just baseball. Guys get excited. I had zero problems with their celebration the way they do it and I think our guys were excited that our backs were to the wall. They've been stopping us and shutting us down."

Mattingly said Puig routinely is slow out of the box when he thinks he's connected for a home run.

"Our guys, you hear them yell in our dugout 'Run!'" Mattingly said.
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